FIRE CHIEF'S FIRING
(Vets Hall) Standing room only and strong sentiment framed the CCSD Special Meeting. Tammy Rudock and Mark Miller were the story line, but the players were the Cambrians who spoke, rallied and as a speaker said, "took the oxygen out of the room."
The main hall, above, and side area, below, had a fire department rep busy asking people to keep passage ways clear.
Kathe Tanner wrote in The Cambrian the special meeting could draw a full house. She was on target. Tanner also reported Rudock might be fired or reprimanded.
The CCSD took public testimony before their special closed session examining Rudock's firing of Miller.
Speakers, some of them pictured in this post, ranged from analytical and measured to angry and pointed. In aggregate they were strongly supportive and affectionate for Chief Miller and negative and hostile to Ms. Rudock. They advocated Miller's reinstatement.
The lone voice in support of Ms. Rudock was former CCSD member Peter Chaldecott. He spoke of his 6-8 years of working with her. Chaldecott's endorsement drew boos from the more vocal in the crowd.
There were calls for Rudock's dismissal, reports of negative or hostile interactions with her and remarks about the economics of her employment. Speaker John Byde said he'd help pay her severance package.
Rudock was in her position and watched as speakers criticized her.
Comments about Chief Miller were the polar opposite. Builders, property owners, business operators, the fireman's union, reserve officers association, former fire department leaders and residents spoke glowingly about Miller's professionalism, cooperative attitude, leadership and personality.
Following public testimony the board went into closed session and the crowd broke for coffee or lunch.
When the board reconvened president Muril Clift announced there would be another closed session Friday evening when action would be taken regarding Ms. Rudock's handling of the Chief's dismissal.
She has said only it was a personnel matter and would make no further comment. Miller hired an attorney and is pursing legal recourse.
Tanner reported in the Cambrian that "as of Monday, none of the five district board members had been told what specific actions had triggered Miller's dismissal."
Cambrians at the special meeting had no shortage of theory or comment on the motivations.
In the afternoon session board member Allan MacKinnon
told of his high regard for Chief Miller.
The board moved to the issue of an interim fire Chief, pending resolution of the Miller dismissal and his status, the Rudock review and the current support given by Cal Fire.
An active duty fire fighter grilled the perplexed board about the chain of command. It was said despite suggestions to the contrary, Rudock was not the acting chief.
Board member Thompson wondered if Cal Fire could continue to provide acting chief support until the Miller-Rudock matter is resolved. Cal Fire said it was under contract to San Luis Obispo County and required compensation to provide the service. Eventually it passed that CCSD would contract with Cal Fire for a 30 day service contract at approximately 16 thousand dollars, the equivalent of the Chief's salary for a month.
Lana and I were pleased to once again watch the community activate and participate in local governance. We've learned there is a history of hub bub, rancor, division, debate and participation in this village.
After decades of reporting on government and politics, from school boards to the Congress and Presidential elections, my favorite remains local government. Cambria's local government is drama. It is spirited, rich in diversity of viewpoint and it seems everyone is an expert.
As a side note. I commend CCSD for providing a format and time for the expression of views and for continuing to permit comment, outbreaks of thought and a full voice even when in deliberation of a resolution. Good, because the input helped frame the board's discussion. It is tricky to stay on agenda and a resolution with comments from the peanut gallery, but it was well done today. No one should have left the Vets hall feeling they could not have been heard.
When a speaker suggested their might have been "a deal," board member Frank DeMicco castigated the speaker and made him clarify if he was speaking negatively about Cal Fire. DeMicco
was blunt in saying this issue would not be played out in a short time or in the emotion of the moment. Emotion certainly filled the Vets Hall.
The hero of the day was Steve Kniffen. He was on the agenda to report on efforts to secure public input and to improve park space at the middle school. Before he took the floor, we chatted in the alcove. He said he thought he might want to delay, given the potential emotion in the room over the report on the closed special meeting on Rudock. However the Board's report was anti climatic, or at least delayed the outcome by a day. When Steve's time came, he rose and took the opportunity of a full house to explain the shared CCSD, School District plan to secure federal funding. He's the person who spoke of the previous issue taking "all of the oxygen in the room." Steve's report was a bright spot and vision establishing. A nice antidote.
All in all, a good show. Stay tuned.